As a Joplin personal injury attorney will tell you, a wrongful death action is a claim for damages made against a person or company whose negligence or intentional acts caused the death of someone else. A wrongful death action can be thought of as a personal injury claim in which the deceased person is no longer able to seek damages. Therefore, the survivors of the deceased individual are allowed to step in to seek damages on behalf of the deceased individual.
The survivors can also seek compensation for their own losses related to the untimely death. A wrongful death claim is a civil law case, meaning that the estate brings the case directly on its own behalf, and fault is expressed solely in terms of compensation by way of a damages award. If you believe you may have a claim for wrongful death, discuss your case with a Joplin personal injury attorney.
Time limits for filing a wrongful death lawsuit
Nearly every legal action has what is known as a “statute of limitations.” This is the period of time in which you must file a claim in court. After that period of time has elapsed, your legal claim can no longer be brought in court. The length of this limitation period depends on the time of claim you are bringing and the laws of the state where your action will be filed. A Joplin personal injury attorney will be able to tell you the time limit that applies to your case.
Each state has its own time limit on the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit in court. In Missouri, a wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the date of the decedent’s death. If the case is not filed within three years. The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Arkansas is one year, meaning that a wrongful death claim must be filed within one year of the date of the decedent’s death, assuming it’s reasonably clear at that time that the defendant’s negligence or intentional action played a role in causing the death.
What is the purpose of a statute of limitations?
Courts impose a statute of limitations period for a couple of reasons. As a practical matter, evidence that could be used to support or oppose a legal claim, can be corrupted or destroyed over time. The memories of witnesses will fade, the location where the injury occurred could be altered, and records may be destroyed. This means that the best time to bring a lawsuit is sooner rather than later. Another, more subjective reason, is that most individuals involved want to get on with their lives and not have a legal despite rise up unexpectedly from their past. As such, the injured party has responsibility to quickly bring their claims so that the legal process can begin. This is where a Joplin personal injury attorney can help.
What does a wrongful death lawsuit involve?
Wrongful death is a complex area of law that involves both the legal elements of typical personal injury claim, as well as, certain state-specific limitations and requirements. Therefore, it is critical that you select a lawyer with sufficient experience and expertise in this area of the law. It is also vital that you act quickly because all wrongful death lawsuits are subject to statutes of limitations, which is the time limit for filing your claims in court.
Common types of wrongful death cases
Wrongful death claims, that is claims that arise due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, are most often brought to court when a person is killed in an auto accident, been exposed to toxic poisoning, defective drugs or defective products. If you can find a wrongful death attorney that has substantial experience in the area of personal injury that is involved, your changes of a successful recovery will likely increase.
Who can bring a wrongful death claim in court?
The personal representative appointed to handle the estate of the deceased person is required to file the wrongful death claim in Arkansas. If no such person has been appointed, then the claim can be filed by the deceased’s legal heirs, which would typically include the “surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings; individuals standing “in loco parentis,”(in place of the parent) and individuals to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis.”
In Missouri, on the other hand, the surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren have first priority to bring a wrongful death claim. The parents of the deceased would be next in line. Usually, when the claim involves the death of a child (minor), the parents will file the wrongful death suit. If none of those individuals have survived the deceased, then a surviving sibling can bring the claim.
What can you recover in wrongful death cases?
In both Arkansas and Missouri, the survivors of the deceased are allowed to seek damages on behalf of the deceased, as well as compensation for their own personal losses, as a result of their loved one’s untimely death. This compensation received can help to alleviate medical bills and other expenses that may have been incurred, such as funeral expenses. This is not true in every state. For example, in Alabama damages in wrongful death cases are purely punitive in nature. Let a Joplin personal injury attorney help you recover the compensation to which you and your family are entitled.
If you have questions regarding car accidents, or any other personal injury issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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